What It Means to Be a Highly Sensitive Person

What It Means To Be A Highly Sensitive Person
What It Means to Be a Highly Sensitive Person

Do you tend to react quickly? Are you emotional? Well, there are higher chances that you are a highly sensitive person. An HSP or highly sensitive personality is a mixed personality with positive and negative aspects. In this blog, we shall give you valuable insights into features, strengths, weaknesses, triggers, incidence, and coping skills for highly sensitive people.

What is HSP or High Sensitive Person?

Highly sensitive people have a unique personality trait known as hypersensitivity to the slightest change  in the internal or external environment. These people have a delicate sensory input towards any kind of stimuli. They tend to take everything to their heart and are very emotional to deal with.

Key Traits of a Highly Sensitive Person

Every personality is different. Well, we all agree on this. Moreover, every person has weaknesses, strengths, pros and cons. Let us discover the personality of HSP- Highly sensitive people. The key traits of a highly sensitive personality are as follows-

  • Quiet, reserved, shy and silent
  • Easily reactive to stimuli
  • Gets startled easily
  • Feeling overwhelmed and panicky in crowded places
  • Avoids interaction or crowded places
  • Dislikes adapting to changes
  • Overstimulated by bright lights and noise
  • Exhausted by interactions and need to re-energize

This personality has a wonderful side as well. Being a highly sensitive personality is not labeled as a clinical diagnosis. It is a trait that defines your nature on how your brain, mind, emotions, and mood are tuned in. Understanding your personality can help you win over the world.

Strengths of the Highly Sensitive Personality (HSP)

  • More focused on work
  • Professional and ethical
  • Conscientious and careful
  • Detail-oriented and creative
  • Perfectionist to avoid critical feedback
  • Avoid any kind of conflict to remain relaxed
  • Deeply moved and inspired by natural beauty
  • Avoids violence and cruelty which makes them easily upset
  • More aware and conscious about surroundings and environment
  • Strong social skills with high observation
  • Empathetic to other emotions and mood
  • Close relationships and are very caring

Weakness of Highly Sensitive Personality (HSP)

  • Easily affected by other person’s mood
  • Feels low and sad on the slightest triggers
  • Gets stressed easily and avoids stressful situations
  • Deeply emotional with strong responses
  • Dislike and stays away from violence
  • Prone to mental exhaustion
  • Feeling isolated and struggling in setting up boundaries
  • Unable to take critical feedback
  • Often withdraw to hurt anyone or being hurt by others
  • Struggle with a busy life and unable to cope with it
  • Too reactive and impulsive to social comparisons
  • Self-critic and ruminate over it

Still wondering whether you are HSP- High Sensitive Personality. Let us give you some insights on how to know whether you are HSP in the next part of the article.

Key Traits Of A Highly Sensitive Person
Key Traits Of A Highly Sensitive Person

How to Know Whether You Are HSP- High Sensitive Personality?

The easy way to re-discover your sensitive personality is to take a quick test. A self-report of High Sensitive Test by Aron helps to determine whether you have a sensitive personality.

The Brain of Highly Sensitive People or HSP

HSP is very emotional. This is particularly due to increased hypersensitivity of the ventromedial prefrontal cortex (vmPFC) which is the part of the brain in the frontal cortex involved in the regulation and controlling power of emotions.

As per research based on a theory in 2014, it is confirmed that HSP has high brain activation in certain regions which triggers awareness, alertness, attention, and action making them quickly responsive to any kind of stimuli. This was proven with evidence from functional magnetic imaging (MRI) or brain scans which helps in measuring the brain sensory activity for HSPs.

Moreover, it is important to remember that every highly sensitive personality has different types of emotions and brain activity.

Origination of the Term Highly Sensitive Person or HSP

Highly Sensitive Person or HSP is a term first coined by well-known psychologist Elaine Aron based on Aron’s therapy in the year 1996. It was first used by a group of psychologists in the 1990s.

The Highly Sensitive Person or HSP term came into existence based on the ideology of sensory processing sensitivity (SPS) which is considered as a defining trait for sensitive individuals. It has been proven by psychologists that people with high SPS traits are extremely hypersensitive to the slightest of emotions with strong reactivity to all kinds of stimuli. Such individuals have complex to deal with hypersensitive immune systems and react with a high response rate to any stimuli at physical and mental level.

Incidence of Highly Sensitive Person or HSP

Most people today identify themselves as extremely sensitive. But, all of them are not classified as Highly Sensitive Persons or HSP. However, HSP is not rare and as per research, it is confirmed that 20-25% of the global population is considered to be Highly Sensitive Person or HSP. Women are considered more sensitive than men. Similarly, young children are considered more sensitive than teenagers and adults.

What Are the Triggers for HSP?

Well, the answer to this is simple. Just like being allergic to certain things like cold weather, kinds of seafood or some medications may trigger the immune system to be hypersensitive, similarly, highly sensitive people are triggered by emotions, stress, work overload, or challenges in life. They are known to react quickly to the slightest of stimuli in all kinds of the environment.

Top 12 Coping Skills for HSP

HSP can be managed and controlled. It does not need any treatment to cure as it is not a clinical mental health disease. It is a personality of a person which can be managed well by adapting to better lifestyle changes. Here are quick coping skills for HSP-

  1. Know your triggers
  2. Prepare for your triggers and stimulations
  3. Do not react quickly to your emotions
  4. Think before you act or speak
  5. Relax and breathe to de-stress
  6. Stay positive and look at the brighter aspect of things in life
  7. Pamper and be kind to yourself
  8. Time management for to-do list in the day
  9. Stay occupied and focused at work
  10. Practice mindfulness
  11. Set up ME time for yourself
  12. Set up boundaries for better living


A Highly Sensitive Person reacts quickly and instantly to any stimuli due to the presence of emotional intensity and depth. The highly sensitive personality may face challenges and difficulties in life depending on how they are dealt with. However, if positively taken, being highly sensitive people is very rewarding with simple lifestyle changes.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Is it normal to be HSP or have a highly sensitive personality?

An HSP or a highly sensitive personality can have positive and negative aspects. It is normal to have an HSP or a highly sensitive personality provided you deal with it in the right manner and accept the positive changes in life for better living.

Do highly sensitive people have high Intelligent Quotient (IQ) and Emotional Quotient (EQ)?

Who are the most famous highly sensitive personalities in the world?

Is HSP considered a mental health problem?


Dr. Rati Parwani

Dr. Rati Parwani is a Professional Practising Medical Doctor with expertise in treating chronic diseases. With over ten years of clinical experience, she currently provides medical and holistic care for all age groups with professional case consultation and medicine. She also has expertise in health and medical writing with research-based proven ethical writing.